WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - As 2013 draws to a close, the West Palm Beach Police Department says it has seen improving trends in crime over the last year.
The most recent numbers released show that West Palm Beach has seen an overall decrease of almost 16 percent in all crimes. The statistic encompasses all crimes, including rapes, robberies and murders.
Officers said that the numbers show positive trends from the year's work.
As with any community, West Palm Beach's changing communities complicate the meaning behind the statistics.
Forcible sexual offenses are down, but thefts of bicycles and vehicle parts have increased.
"Most of our decreases have been in the robberies, street robberies, and those types of aspects. And that has to do with our officers using the method of intelligence," explained Cpt. David Bernhardt.
During the year, the department has worked on personal relationships with programs through Urban League, Urban Youth Impact and Vickers House.
"Those little programs do not seem like much, but it is a holistic effort to combat crime as one whole thing," he said.
The department has also launched an app that allows the community to see where crime is happening and report it.
Social media has played an important role in connecting the community to making tips easily and effectively, while getting the word out about crimes.
The department has recently launched new fingerprint technology that helps to quickly identify perpetrators and also communicate with other jurisdictions.
On and off for 60 years, West Palm Beach resident William Holland has lived in various parts of the city. Now, he helps to run GN Services on Broadway and 39th Street.
"We always got shootings around this area, every time you look up somebody's been shot. They find somebody dead, and then there's a lot of crime that's not reported either," Holland speculated.
He feels that when police are called, their response time is fine, but he can't tell a noticeable improvement in crime the last few years.
"So, I couldn't say whether it's up or down, but to me it seems constant," he said.
Another woman, who didn't want her identity revealed, said her home was broken into three days ago. She thinks the department needs to refocus its efforts.
"They need to worry about the crime that's in here, and not worry about the people around drinking one beer," she said.
Derrick Gibbon moved to the city from Baltimore six months ago. He says the city feels safe.
"I don't know about the future or in the past. For right now, they're doing a good job," he said.
Bernhardt said it is constant work, and that work will continue into the New Year.
"You are never satisfied just because there's been a drop," he said.
In 2014, the West Palm Beach Police Department is rolling out new programs. One, specifically, is aimed at helping victims of domestic violence.